Insurance data confirms that Kia and Hyundai are easy targets for thieves

Insurance data confirms that Kia and Hyundai are easy targets for thieves

CNN Theft of old Hyundai, Kia and SUV cars has become a scary trend on social media. Now, data from the Highway Loss Data Institute, which collects information on insurance claims, confirms that these South Korean models are more likely to be stolen than others.

In fact, the 2015-2019 Hyundai and Kia models are almost as likely to be stolen as other cars of the same age. The reason is that many of these vehicles lack some of the basic theft-prevention technologies included with most other vehicles, even in those years, according to HLDI.

These models do not have electronic fasteners that rely on a computer chip in the car and another in the key that communicates to ensure that the key is genuine and actually belongs to that car. Without the correct key, the immobilizer has to do just that – immobilizing the car.

Immobilizers were standard equipment on 96% of vehicles sold for the 2015-2019 model year, according to HLDI, but they were standard on only 26% of Hyundais and Kias vehicles. Vehicles with push-button starters, rather than relying on metal switches to be inserted and rotated, have immobilizers, but not all models with a full key start function.

Hyundai and Kia operate as separate companies in the United States, but the Hyundai Motor Group owns a large stake in Kia and many Hyundai and Kia models share much of its architecture.

The auto theft trend went viral on social media last year, according to HLDI. In Wisconsin, where it first became popular, allegations of theft from Hyundais and Kias soared more than 30 times in 2019 in dollar terms.

Some videos posted on TikTok showed allegedly stolen Hyundai and Kia cars being driven recklessly and even wrecked. A TikTok spokesperson recently said, “TikTok does not condone this behavior that violates our policies and will be removed if it is found on our platform.”

The theft method, which involves severe damage to the ignition system, indicates that these cars are stolen for fun and not for resale, according to HLDI.

Daryl Russell, a former auto theft investigator now serves as Director of Operations at the National Insurance Crime Bureau, said in a statement. To return a VIN, a vehicle means changing or substituting its VIN, which is a 17-character-digital identification code, to make the vehicle more difficult to trace.

HLDI’s estimates of theft frequency are based on the number of a particular model on the road and the frequency of vehicle theft claims. Some vehicles are often stolen just because a lot of them are sold, and so there are a lot of them on the roads for theft.

In the case of Hyundai and Kia models, though, theft rates don’t match their numbers on the road.

Hyundai spokesman Era Gabriel said that vehicles produced after November 1, 2021 and those that operate with the push of a button will not be stolen in this way. Electronic immobilizers became standard on all Hyundai vehicles, including those with ignition switches, after that date.

Also, for those who have older cars that do not have immobilizers, Hyundai has specified a kit that can be installed to prevent this type of theft. From October 1, the safety kit will be available for purchase and installation at Hyundai dealerships and at authorized installers, the automaker said in a statement.

Kia noted that the majority of Kia vehicles in the United States have push-button start systems that make stealing more difficult. The NICB advises owners who are concerned that their vehicle may be the target of theft to take easy steps such as always closing doors and parking in well-lit areas. Furthermore, owners can also use aftermarket anti-theft devices such as additional alarm systems, steering wheel, pedal locks and kill switches.

Among the newer cars, the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, a large sedan with a supercharged V8 engine capable of more than 700 horsepower, was more popular with thieves than its numbers on the road, according to HLDI. Dodge cars are manufactured by the global automaker Stylanets.

“All Stellantis vehicles meet or exceed applicable federal standards for safety and security. We use industry-standard technologies, including immobilizer capability, across our North American vehicle portfolio,” a spokesperson said in an email. “Nevertheless, we urge all motorists to exercise due diligence in insuring their vehicles.”

CNN’s Brian Fong contributed to this story.

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